April 29, 2013 / 6:32 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 2-Colombia GDP likely grew about 2.8 pct in 1st quarter

(Adds detail on GDP, rates)

BOGOTA, April 29 (Reuters) - Colombia’s central bank on Monday said the economy likely grew about 2.8 percent in the first quarter from the same period a year earlier, which would be within a forecasted range of 2 to 3.5 percent.

During his quarterly presentation in Bogota, Central Bank Chief Jose Dario Uribe reiterated that the economy would probably grow about 4.3 percent in full-year 2013, more than the 4 percent growth registered in 2012 but well below the 6.6 percent acceleration in 2011.

The economy grew 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter and 5.3 percent in the first quarter of 2012.

The government will reveal consumer prices for April on Saturday and the first quarter GDP in June.

Inflation will probably end the year under 3 percent, which is the bank’s mid-point goal of between 2 percent and 4 percent. Next year Uribe said he expects close to 3 percent.

Annual inflation through the end of March reached 1.91 percent.

The low inflation has allowed the policymakers to cut the benchmark lending rate 200 basis points since July last year in a bid to encourage consumers and businesses to invest and help economic growth pick up steam.

Central bank policymakers held borrowing costs steady at 3.25 percent on Friday after back-to-back cuts began to be felt by consumers and banks.

It typically takes between 12 and 18 months for each cut to be felt in the economy. Uribe said GDP growth will likely be faster in the second, third and fourth quarters and possibly reach 5 percent at some point.

The government earlier this month unveiled a stimulus plan to accelerate spending on public works, boost factory output and help the struggling agriculture sector.

Industrial output has declined in nine of the last 12 months as factories struggle with weak overseas demand and a strong currency that pits them against cheaper imports and increases labor costs.

In February, manufacturing dropped 4.5 percent, its sharpest year-on-year decline since April 2009. (Reporting by Helen Murphy, Carlos Vargas and Luis Jaime Acosta; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

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